Media guide madness

When I first started working at The Chronicle last spring, sports editor Joe Beatty asked me to pick out a few fun facts from the Ute basketball media guide for a photo spread of the team roster.

A nice easy task for a rookie reporter, right? So it seemed.

I had settled on listing “Acropolis Now” as Andrew Bogut’s favorite TV show before I read that he had a pet kangaroo and crocodile back in his native Australia. I went with it.

The next day, Bogut responded on his Web site by assuring the national media he didn’t actually own those ridiculous pets and that he didn’t think anybody would actually be stupid enough to believe his little ruse. Obviously Bogut didn’t know me.

ESPN.com ran a lead story on their home page soon after, which led with an allusion to his joke on me, and the rest is history. Well, for Bogut at least. I’m still a goofball college sportswriter.

Nonetheless, I still enjoy browsing through media guides-particularly the “personal” sections on athletes, where you can always bank on finding a few silly tidbits to make the buffet fly by in the pressroom.

For instance:

Charlotte Bobcats guard Brevin Knight was named after his mother, Brenda, and his father, Melvin. “Shaquille Rashaun” O’Neal means “the little warrior” in Islam. (It seems no prophet was involved in naming the Diesel.)

Bobcat Gerald Wallace has not one, but two community parks named after him in native Childersburg, Ala.

Tim Duncan wears his practice shorts backward, has a large knife collection that includes a 3-foot samurai sword and is terrified of heights and sharks.

Ute power forward Kim Smith showers before each game-which is almost as strange as Air Force halfback Justin Handley’s ritual of putting grass in his socks from the back of the end zone. UNLV forward Brett Hoerner’s good luck charm is his pink shoelaces, while Bulls guard Chris Duhon sleeps with a basketball on game nights.

Ute quarterback Kevin Dunn does everything left-handed-except pass.

Raptors forward Eric Williams was a top prep baseball player as a 6-foot-3 shortstop in his sophomore year of high school, receiving letters from the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates. He sprouted to 6-foot-8 his junior year of high school and started playing basketball for the first time in his life.

Ute volleyball player Amie Tingey’s bio claims that nobody knows how much she loves Chapstick. Well, Amie, they do now.

TCU tailback Robert Merrill enjoys raising turtles and snakes, while lineman Will Oliver is a big fan of glass collecting.

If 6-foot-7, 230-pound TCU forward Chudi Chinweze could pick anybody to play him in a movie, it would be 5-foot-7 Martin Lawrence, while fellow front-court mate Art Pierce would like to have met Ponce de Leon.

UNLV guard John Sharper’s favorite quote from coach Steve Fisher is, “You don’t know nothing from apple butter.”

Ron Artest lists Queensbridge legend Mike Chatfield-not Kobe Bryant-as the best player he’s ever played against. Hornets forward J.R. Smith considers Luol Deng his top opponent.

Ute defensive back Brice McCain once ran the 100-meter in 10.3 seconds, while receiver Travis LaTendresse won seven Junior Olympic gold medals in Tae Kwon Do.

Many media guides quiz athletes on their tastes in entertainment, always a favorite section of mine.

Ute shooting guard Julie Larsen, who has “slid down a glacier,” is a big Ja Rule supporter. High Point’s Joel Flowers and Mike Jefferson are both “huge” Little Wayne fans, and roughly 87 percent of current NBA players consider a Young Geezy concert one of the most illuminating experiences on the planet.

It’s ironic that athletes complain about getting a bad rap when they have such a profound love for bad rap.

Of the 50 or so media guides I scoured, not one athlete lists, oh, say, “The Godfather” as his or her favorite movie.

Instead, Ute volleyball player Kate Robinson would rather watch “Sweet Home Alabama” and two-guard Heidi Carlson picks “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Orlando Magic power forward Dwight Howard loves “Finding Nemo.”

Ute power forward Camie Oakey enjoys Rocky I through V-which is 80 percent fine. But Rocky V? Come on now, Camie.

Raptors center Loren Woods “often critiques movies from a wide range of genres.” His favorite? “Transformers.”

Georgia gymnast Katie Heenan is, hands down, the world’s lamest movie connoisseur. Her horrible picks consist of “Elf,” “Runaway Bride” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”

Not surprisingly, most athletes come from remarkably athletic families. Ute offensive linemen Josh and Jesse Boone have a brother, Aaron, who signed with the Carolina Panthers as a wide receiver, and a sister Amy who played basketball and volleyball for George Mason before playing semi-pro for the San Diego Waves.

Ute Bryce Scanlon is Junior Seau’s second cousin and so is San Diego State offensive lineman Chris Pino. That’s not all. Arizona Wildcats quarterback Willie Tuitama is also related to Seau.

Philadelphia forward Kyle Korver-who enjoys horseshoes, croquet and Frisbee golf in his free time-has a mother who once scored 74 points in a high-school game.

Not everything runs in the family, however. Luke Nevill, who stands at 7 feet 1 inch, has a tiny twin brother. He’s only 6 feet 6 inches.

We’ve all heard of “The Great One,” and “Air Jordan,” but some of the nicknames athletes receive defy reason.

Ute volleyball player Whitney Webb is dubbed “Alva-steiner-weiner” and “The Alvanator.” Air Force basketball’s Nick Welch likes to be called “Batman,” whereas teammate Matt Holland prefers “Mr. Bojangles.” Academy wide receiver Vic Thompson’s alternative moniker is “Waffle House.”

Toni Kukoc owns numerous aliases in Europe, including “Pink Panther,” “The Spider of Spit,” “The Waiter” and “Kuki.” Kooky, for sure.

Teammates Bobby Simmons and Michael Redd battle for more than just playing time, since both share the nickname “Silky.”

There are many more media guides available at $10 a pop, and all are replete with such absurdities. Until I get them for free, I’ll leave you to skim through those yourself.